Chicama, Peru – Arguably the longest left point break in the world!
Usually when I start to daydream about potential surf trips, my mind immediately gravitates towards the more Tropical locations of the world. Visions of warm water, balmy offshore breezes, palm trees, coconuts, south swells, ice cold cervezas and fresh fish seem to hijack my imagination.
Colder water spots are usually far off of my radar, and as soon as you go below the water temperature, “Mendoza line”, which is 67 degrees, it mentally, starts to become a very tough sell. Wearing a full suit on a surf trip usually doesn’t bode well with me, but dangle one of the worlds longest waves in front of me and I’m probably going to take the bait.
After doing extensive research on South American surf zones we narrowed it down to a couple of spots and finally chose our next destination. What better place to check out than the cartoonishly long left point break of Chicama, Peru, (otherwise known to the locals as the Malabrigo left). This spot is a place of legend, with world wide notoriety and arguably one of the longest rideable waves in the world.
From the pictures and videos I’d seen, it looked like something out of an episode from the Twilight Zone. Long, defined, machine like lines that wrap into a 3 mile, predominately, sand bottom point, with all the mechanical precision of a finely tuned Rolls Royce.
Always one to err on the side of caution and measured skepticism, I went into the trip just hoping to have a good time, experience a new place and hopefully see the famed Chicama Point Break do what’s it’s famous for.
In the infancy of the planning stages I invited everyone within earshot to join us on our pilgrimage to South America. To my dismay, much as Columbus experienced, in the eyes of my cronies, the world was still flat and the risks involved seemed to outweigh the potential reward. The only person willing to hop on board the trip, was my one man ad sales team, Roland Aubert. We were about to discover that not only was the world not flat, neither was Chicama, it was firing!
The following is a blue print of how to get to one of the 7 wonders of the surfing world, Chicama Point, without doing all of the legwork and research that is usually involved in planning a trip to unchartered territories.
Check out a video tour of Chicama Surf Resort!
The RESORT: The Chicama Surf Resort & Spa has 20 rooms and is undoubtedly the most desirable place to stay in the entire town. If you are seriously considering a visit to Chicama, do yourself a favor and book your stay there. It is the Ritz Carlton of Chicama! The resort is perched atop a sea blown cliff, overlooking the Point Break and offering up spectacular, panoramic views throughout the property.
While the “garden” rooms are nice enough, do not settle for a stay on the ground floor. Pay the extra cash to ensure you get the unimpeded, point break, front row seat. The 2nd story, scenic view rooms are the only way to go. You will be absolutely blown away when you step out onto your balcony in the morning and witness perfect waves marching down the point in unison. Trust me… watching this spot do it’s thing is positively mesmerizing.
The rooms are priced at $180 USD per night and divided by 3 travelers that’s just $60 a person. The rates for “ocean” rooms for 2 travels is $140 USD, $70 a person, and singles can have the room to themselves for $110 per night. These rates includes a free continental breakfast, but lunch and dinner are an additional charge.
The ROOMS: Are a bit on the small side, but very comfortable and clean. The ability to sit out on the balcony and watch the waves, or read a good book, as a nice offshore breeze whistles through the point, make it well worth the price of admission.
* Closet space is very limited so definitely store all your surfing gear down in the board room.
The BATHROOMS: Are first world modern with walk in showers, hot and cold water, and a respectable amount of water pressure. As for the century year old question, is it ok to drink the water? I’ll say it’s best to only drink from bottled water and leave the piped in water for showers and the locals with a seasoned tolerance.
The COMMON AREAS: (FIRST FLOOR) Upon entering the property, you have to ring the bell at the front gate to be let in, where you will find yourself in an outdoor foyer area. At this point you will find the “board room” where you can store your board bags, boards, wetsuits and schedule the zodiac for your session. The staff will usually put your boards and wetsuits away post surf and are more than willing to repair any dings that you may encounter throughout your trip.
* The complex is very secure and locked at all times. We kept all of our surf equipment in the board room and never worried about locking the door to our suite.
Just inside the main complex you’ll find bathrooms adjacent to the board room where you can change into your wetsuit and store your clothes and a towel for later. This enables you to use the changing area and showers to remove and rinse your suit with hot water and get a fresh water head dip at the same time.
Upon exiting the bath area there is a basic exercise/workout area complete with weights, cardio equipment, and a yoga area to practice your craft or just stretch and roll out those sore muscles.
Adjacent to the exercise areas are a steam room, a dry sauna and a massage room. The cost of a full body, one hour massage is $35 USD and they offer a full menu of other options for you to consider. After your massage, you exit directly to the hot indoor Jacuzzi to wash the toxins away and back to the shower area if wanted.
The (SECOND FLOOR): This is the main floor and where the resort hosts the dining area, bar, pool area and media room. Within the dining area you will find a comfortable setting with a fireplace in the middle of the room and a full length glass wall so that you can soak in the spectacular ocean view.
Stepping outside of the dining area you will find yourself on a large outdoor deck, overlooking the point, accompanied with tables, lounge chairs an infinity pool and Jacuzzi. On the East side of the deck is a media room which is equipped with satellite TV, that enabled us to get an NFL game or 2 when we felt a pang of homesickness. Once again, the Media room has a full length glass wall which enables you take in the views of the pool area and also keep your eyes peeled for the rising swell.
The (THIRD FLOOR): is where you will find the game room which houses a foosball table, a chess set, a pool table and a ping pong table.
The LANGUAGE BARRIER: Make sure to brush up on your Spanish skills prior to your trip since only a few key staff members at the Resort are fluent in English. Bring an English/Spanish translation book or a proficient Spanish speaking friend along for the trip or you could find yourself having some difficulties articulating anything that requires precise detail.
The FOOD: The menu is comprised primarily of Peruvian cuisine along with spaghetti and pizza dishes. You’ll find a variety of beef, fish and chicken plates to choose from. The food is not spicy, but rather bland, so be sure to communicate to your server any particular preferences you may have so that your meal winds up in sync with your taste buds. Lunch and dinner prices, depending on the foreign exchange rate, range anywhere from $8 to $15 USD per meal.
The INTERNET: They do have WIFI at the resort but it’s just a notch above dial up with speeds clocking in about 400KBS. I was able to read and send emails and do a little bit of social media uploading, but when it came to doing any heavy lifting the internet came up woefully short. Expect to be able to stay in touch with the outside world, but if you’re uploading videos… well trust me, it’s not happening!
The STAFF: Jorge and the rest of the staff at Chicama did everything within their power to make sure we were having a great trip. They were all extremely friendly and accommodating and catered to most of our needs without even being asked. Overall I would rate the Resort and the efforts made by it’s employees a double thumbs up. No other place to stay in Chicama should be made mention of in the same sentence! It’s a real class act!
GETTING THERE From LAX: We found LAN airline
http://www.lan.com/en_us/sitio_personas/index.html to be the best to get down to Peru. We decided to take the red eye which departed LAX at 12:15AM and landed in Lima 8 hours later.
From there we had a 3 hour layover in Lima and then boarded a 2nd plane to Trujillo, (total flight time on the second leg was a little over an hour). Once we landed in Trujillo we were greeted by a gentlemen holding a sign with our name on it. The airport is very small and the luggage, including surfboards, were unloaded in a timely fashion.
*Surfboards/Bags fly for FREE on LAN.
From there, the driver secured our belongings, put the boards on the racks and we were off to the races, (literally), down an extremely busy 2 lane highway to the sleepy village of Chicama. Total road time is about 1 1/2 hours until you hit your final destination. Although time seems to slow down to a crawl in Peru, for some odd reason the drivers there have somewhere to be, AND NOW… and constantly prod and poke and try to pass the litany of busses and giant big rigs that are roaring down the highway.
In conjunction with all of the high profile vehicles moving at the speed of light, you must factor into the mix, battered jalopies, motorcycles and Tuk-Tuks, (pronounced Took Tooks), which is a cross between a motorcycle and a rickshaw. These inexpensive, lightweight rigs were everywhere we went and the main mode of transportation down the dusty, quiet streets of Chicama. Personally, although tempted, I never got in one, (mainly because I want to die of natural causes), but the locals told me it would only cost a couple sols to get wherever I wanted to go in Chicama.
The MONEY: The exchange rate for dollars to Peruvian SOL is quite favorable for the Gringos
http://themoneyconverter.com/USD/PEN.aspx with 1.00 USD = 2.87 PEN, (nearly 3 SOL). In the bigger cities you can get away with using Credit/Debit Cards or American Dollars, but in the smaller towns /villages like Chicama they will insist on SOLs, so make sure you exchange enough US dollars in Peru to get you through the trip while in Chicama. The smaller bills are better to use. I would recommend getting 20 dollar notes, (maybe a few 50’s if you want to look like a big spender).
* Also be advised that for some odd reason they are very leery of counterfeit bills and will not accept any currency with even the slightest tear or blemish on it. Make sure you have CLEAN money… literally.
In the town of Chicama there are literally only a handful of roadside stores and restaurants so if you are staying at the Resort there is almost no reason to buy things anywhere else. The resort just runs a tab on you for everything, from massages, to Zodiac service, to drinks and meals and then presents you an itemized bill at the conclusion of your stay. Both Roland and I lived like Fat Cats and were ready for a shocker bill at check out, but everything was so reasonably priced we left feeling like we got a good bang for our buck and actually went home with some cash in hand.
The SURF: Well geez, what can I say about Chicama Point? I have surfed all over the world and these were the longest waves, bar none, that I have ever ridden in my life. We arrived in Peru the afternoon of a building swell and the following morning looked like something out of a dream sequence. The point was lit up from top to bottom with corduroy as far as the eye could see.
This was my first date with Chicama and she looked enticing, beautiful and easy, but the easy part couldn’t have been further from the truth. She makes you work for every hand hold, every kiss, every cuddle and keeps her chastity belt locked tightly at all times. When you do score a good wave, you know you’ve earned it, and it’s not like you’re competing against other surfers as much as you’re competing with the point itself.
I have all the respect in the world for that point after grinding out a solid 10 days there and I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t even come close to getting it wired. The wave itself is some of Mother Nature’s finest work. When it’s firing, it hit’s well outside of the rock at the top of the point and if you pick the right wave can be on the fast track to the longest wave of your life.
If a set doesn’t come in during your tenure in pole position it’s hasta la vista baby, as you’re swept down the point with all the fury of a grade 5 rapid river. With all that being said it was one of the greatest surf experiences of my life. I was able to challenge myself strength wise and endurance wise and get some of the longest waves I’ve ever seen.
|Surf Location||In the city of La Libertad at KM 614|
|Best Swell Direction||Southwest|
|Best Tide||All tides work|
|Best Wind Direction||No wind, or East (it’s almost always offshore all day long)|
|Best Surf Season||Winter and spring|
|Wave Quality||One of the longest left point breaks in the world; world-class|
|The Surfers||Mellow vibe, the wave spreads out the crowd|
|Boards||Any board works. Bring 1 with extra foam for paddling power.|
|Paddle Out||1/2 mile walk or ride back to the point in the boat. Either way prepare to paddle for miles!|
|Skill Level||Intermediate to expert, (must be in great paddling shape)|
|Bottom||Sand and rock|
|Watch Out For…||Leg cramps strong offshore winds blowing the board out of your hands|
|Water Temps||Dec, Jan, Feb, March 65-75 degrees April-Nov 60-64 degrees|
|Rain||Less than 1 inch a year|
|Air temps||65-80 degrees all year round|
|Wetsuit||Bring a 3/2 full suit, a spring suit and either booties or reef walkers|
Here’s some video mixed with pictures of a few waves during the trip!
The CROWD: It wasn’t very crowded down there for most of our stay but the ASP junior contest was scheduled for the week after we left and some REAL RIPPERS started filtering in and showed us how the place should really be surfed.
I was never dropped in on once the whole time I was there, and not sure if I earned a little respect or there were just so many waves out there that no one bothered or needed to burn me. Either way, there was a very etiquette conscious group surfing the point while we were there, but I can’t guarantee that that’s the norm.
The BOAT: To boat or not to boat… that is the question? For me I would say definitely use the boat when you can. The drift out at Chicama, when it gets 4 feet or bigger, is something straight out of a horror movie.
Roland and I would begin every morning with a 1/2 mile walk up and around the big rock on the end of the point. From there we would grind out another 800 yards to South, in the face of a relentless, blustery, offshore wind, paddle into the surf line, and be whisked into the takeoff zone in a matter of 60 seconds. From there we either caught a set or were railroaded to the inside, (which is still way outside), to try and catch anything that swung our way.
After that you started looking for the boat to drive you back out into position on the point. There are anywhere from 1-3 boats working the line up and the Chicama Resort owns 2 of them. John Carlos and Andrew, aka Junior, man the helm for the resort’s water craft and have balls of steel while scouring the line up for paid patrons.
You basically affix a piece of tape to your wetsuit so they know you’re on the paid plan, (in my case I wore a neon orange hat so I couldn’t be missed), and they pick up to 5 people at a time at various spots in the lineup, then race everyone out to the point where the surfers jump out of the boat and assume their place on the point. This circle of life continues during the designated zodiac hours and then you’re on your own.
This is the point where I was a bit torn up on my surf ethics. Some guys walked and paddled the point all day while others used the boat services to leverage their position in the pack. Through general observation it was easy for me to know who was who and I would consistently yield set waves to any of those who had the blue collar work ethic. If you could walk and paddle that point all day long you deserve set waves served up to you on a silver platter.
* The boats ran from 8:30-11:45 then 3:30-5:45. I had some of my most enjoyable, and hard earned surfs in the times between. No boats, no crowd – and the wind is offshore ALL DAY LONG every day.
The last day we were there the boat had a mechanical problem in the morning as a new swell filled in and I did 2 boat rides, (before it broke down), and 9, 1/2 mile walks up the point to finish out my stint in Peru. All of the hard work made that surf seem even more rewarding to me than any other part of the trip. I felt I earned every wave that day and was as stoked as tired as I sipped on my icy cold Trujillo Beer on the top deck of the resort and mentally revisited my stay in Chicama.
The LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHER: Chicama is a very tough place to film for the simple fact that the point is just so damn long. There are a couple guys who hike about half way up the cliff, set up their tripods and shoot through the morning hours when the lighting is good. They will take pictures of every surfer in the line up and try and sell the shots to the surfers in the evening. El Zorro, the top dog photographer, shows up at the Resort bar with his English speaking sidekick, (laptop cued up), and will show you the pictures/videos he shot of you that morning.
The going price seemed to be $35.00 to get all your files for the day, but as with anything in a 3rd world country, there’s always a little latitude for negotiating. The main caveat is that they will shoot the entirety of the surfers’ wave, sometimes video and sometimes stills, and if there are consistent sets you may or may not find yourself in the crosshairs of the lens.
The bottom line is that he can only film one surfer at a time so don’t be shocked if that wave of your life isn’t recorded for posterity!
* If you want to make sure they shoot you communicate with them prior to your surf and they will get you a colored shirt or rash guard so they can pick you out in the lineup. Nonetheless, the only way to ensure you get some pictures is to catch a ton of waves.
Contact info of the photographer:
El Zorro: Jesus Florian Castillo (El Zorro)
Here are some images and video of the small town of Chicama!
The LOCALS: All of the residents of Chicama that I crossed paths with seemed friendly and happy. The town itself seems to be caught in a time warp where modern conveniences and the hustle and bustle of every day city life has been blocked out of the bubble. The pace of life there is as slow as a napping desert tortoise. Everyone just goes about their business, but always seems to have time for a wave and a smile. There is a local surfing contingency, but even the rippers were likeable and humble both in and out of the water. I brought with me a load of surf shirts, hats and board shorts and gave all of my gear to the local kids and a few orange swellmagnet hats to the boat drivers. I can’t begin to tell you how stoked they were.
Chicama is an impoverished, but proud town, comprised of family oriented, hard working people. Everyone I met during my stay had a pleasant vibe about them and I never got that feeling that anyone was out to rip me off or do me harm. When we did purchase a few items from the local stores or Restaurants we would just pull out a handful of coins and let them pick out the total from the palm of our hand.
It was awesome to head out on a new adventure, meet new people, see new places and get the longest waves of my life in the process. I usually ask people who go on a trip, “Would you go back”? The answer for me is hell yeah! I’d just train harder next time and bring a wider variety of boards.
Chicama… when you’re ready for the ride of your life!
If you are interested in learning more about our Chicama experience feel free to email
and for the record this is not a paid endorsement.